White Pass Ski Area opens with limited operations

White Pass Ski Area opens with limited operations »Play Video

WHITE PASS, Wash. -- Up and operating. Eager skiers hit the slopes early for opening day at White Pass Ski Area.

It was slated to open Thanksgiving, but due of lack of snow, the opening was pushed back to early December.

This is probably one of the latest opening days I remember," said Tim Madden. "Not great snow, but it's skiing, so it beats the alternative of not skiing.

Tim Madden hasn't missed opening day in eight years. Saturday was considered a 'soft' opening with only a third of the runs open. It's the first time in 25 years the mountain is kicking off the season with limited operations.

"We're a little bit disappointed today, the back of the mountains not open," said Madden.

As a result, the ski area dropped the price of admission.

Man made snow is being used to cover most of the slopes, a first for White Pass. Close to 100 maintenance workers and six snow generators made opening day possible.

"They've been working 24/7 to lay down this base here," said White Pass Ski Area Spokesperson Kathleen Goyette. " They've really taken about five inches of snow and created about 20 inches on top of it."

To say it's chilly is an understatement. At the base of the mountain it's three degrees and with the wind chill, it feels like negative 10. The top of the mountain is in the negative digits.

Despite the limited slopes open and frigid temperatures, nearly 1,500 skiers and boarders have braved the cold for opening day.

"Your up in the lift and the wind just bites right through your mask, right through your glasses, like everything," said Brandon Phelps. "So, I mean once you get off the lift  and you head down the slope, you forget all about it. It's all fun."

While freezing temperatures have kept half the amount of customers off compared to previous years, the die-hards rule the slopes.

"We just come in pretty often for hot coco," said Sean Tait. "You can only take two of three runs in a row before you have to come inside."

Despite the slow start, the ski area hopes to attract 150,000 customers this year.